Quintet part of Sickles football's turnaround

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Wed. February 5, 2014 | John C. Cotey | Email

Quintet part of Sickles football's turnaround

Sickles had the finest class of football signees in its history, a group of five players — Louis Mercado, Chett Levay, Devin Santana, Zach Hudson and Josh Black — that coach Brian Turner said rivaled any group that came out Chamberlain while he was an assistant coach there.

The group played a pivotal role in turning the Sickles football program into one of the area's most successful teams.

"I would say we were mediocre...maybe less than mediocre, when we arrived," said Hudson, who is Turner's nephew and signed Wednesday with USF. "I think 6-4 when we got here, then 7-3, then 8-3 and we were 11-2 this season. I feel like we did something special, and there's still enough talent on the team to continue what we started."

Levay, who developed from a little-used receiver as a junior to the team's top target as a senior with 56 catches and 661 yards, signed with Florida International.

"I feel like I was a part of starting something special here," he said. "It feels good."

Black, the Tampa Bay Times' Defensive Player of the Year, said he chose USF on Tuesday night after a long process.

Black picked the Bulls over Marshall and Toledo. He had his relationship with the USF coaching staff ultimately was too attractive to pass up.

As for the recruiting grind, Black said he was over it about a week ago and ready to bring it to an end.

"At first I loved it, you get all the attention and it's great," said the Gryphon, who had 20 sacks his senior year. "Then it starts to wear and tear on you. It gets aggravating, annoying and weird all at the same time."

Black wasn't coveted by as many schools as he thinks he should have, and said he views himself as a steal for USF.

Then again, he added, no matter where he went he'd consider himself a steal.

Also signing for Sickles in the school's media center were soccer players Jada Humphries (Polk State) and Brianna Hamson (Stetson) and volleyball player Lauryn Nelson (Eckerd.).

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